Author: Leila Sales
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
I have tried writing this book review for the past month and I almost discarded the idea because I couldn’t come up with something cohesive. My thoughts are all over the place because I’m not sure if I like this book or not. I’m not sure if I like the main character or not. But let’s do this anyway.
Being the music junkie that I am, the title of this book instantly spoke to me. Plus, this book was on sale so I just grabbed it when I saw it. Lels. I started reading the synopsis at the back and the “praises” for the book and I saw that it was compared to Rowell’s Eleanor & Park which I loved so I guess, it wouldn’t hurt to give this book a try.
The story revolved around Elise, a girl who is every definition of a misfit. And if you have read quite a number of YA novels, you would probably be like, “Ah, another misfit story. What’s going to be new in this?” Well, admittedly the theme is a not so new theme. I have read quite a few misfit stories myself but they weren’t as honest as this one if I may say. It’s like reading your own thoughts sometimes. And if connecting to the characters is what you are looking for in a book, I think you would find the character of Elise easily relatable. Or not.
Some people would easily shun her as self-absorbed and aloof and a snob but if you actually categorized yourself as a misfit, you would definitely understand where she is coming from. I also really think that she was self-absorbed and aloof and a snob. But I guess it was her way of self-preservation so I really don’t know how I feel about that. She tried to be herself and apparently, other kids don’t really like it very much when you are being yourself. Wearing the clothes that you like or listening to the music that you like. You’d think you would seem cool and special but the world will always prove you wrong. I don’t know why the world works that way but that’s the hazard of not conforming and having a sense of individuality. People will always look at you differently. And it is not always the nice kind of ‘differently’ sad to say.
So back to the story.
For the whole summer, Elise tried to reinvent herself. She had read almost every teen magazines she could just so she could dress herself as someone like a normal teenager. She read up on popular celebrities, popular styles and popular music. And on the first day of school she even sat in the middle of the bus where the cool guys are. She didn’t even wear her headsets on because that just screams anti-social. She sat with other people on the cafeteria during lunch. She tried to fit in. But she still couldn’t. She’s still the Elise no one really likes.
After realizing that no one still liked to talk to her and that no one wanted to be her friend, she went home and tried to kill herself.
She did not succeed. In killing herself I mean. If she did, the rest of the story would not happen.
Some parts of it were told in a painfully honest way and I couldn’t help but somehow see a part of myself in Elise which was pretty disturbing. Maybe this is the reason why I cannot decide if I like her or not. She’s way too relatable that it’s too cringey. There was this part right after her unsuccessful suicide attempt, let me quote it:
“I didn’t want to try to kill myself, didn’t want the blood and the hysterical parents and the guilt, any of it. But sometimes I liked the idea of simply not having to be here anymore, not having to deal with my life.”
Like huhu. IT ME!
After she tried to hurt herself and coming to the realization that she did not really want to kill herself, she started looking for other ways to amuse herself on nights when she couldn’t bring herself to sleep. She started sneaking out of the house to take long walks. And then one night she met two girls who could potentially change her life by bringing her to an underground dance party at Start.
The whole stumbling upon the girls and the underground dance party felt a little too magical to me. But I kind of like it because don’t we all need a little bit of magic in our dreary lives? But I have to give it to Sales because she didn’t immediately used Start and the two girls as Elise’s salvation. So it was not an instant magical moment when everything just suddenly changed. In fact, at first, Elise had to leave because she felt alienated. She then tried out for it a second time and she saw the two girls again who actually remembered her. And then she also met Charm, the DJ.
This is where the real story starts. Elise found a new passion for DJ-ing and being the precocious girl that she was, she studied the craft and found out that she was good at it. But this will not be an easy journey. There will be a lot of drama thrown here and there. And also a lot of laughs.
Elise was lucky to have both reasonable parents. Weird but reasonable. They weren’t the hysterical parents. They are the normal kind of weird. And I love her father. If anything, he is my favorite character. Being a musician/ artist himself he could understand Elise in a deeper level. I love what he said about being an artist. Here it is:
“The thing about being an artist is that there are always going to be people who want to stop you from doing your art. But this usually says more about them and their issues than it does about you and your art.”
The story has a number of memorable characters and I like that. I read a lot of books which I don’t even remember the main character’s names so I guess it’s a good thing for this book. I also recently read another book where there’s so much character that were introduced but never really helped in developing the story.
The story revolving around Elise’s journey to the being a teenage DJ and the book having the title “This Song Will Save Your Life” I guess it is expected to see some pretty cool music suggestions throughout the book. I actually wish I decided to listen to the songs they were mentioning throughout the book as I was reading though. I think it would have been more awesome if I did.
Anyway, overall think I actually liked the book. I like the message of the story about how being true to yourself is better than pretending to be someone you are not, following your passion, the importance of family, and how you don’t need a lot of friends in life. Just a few good ones will do. However, I don’t think the story will stay with me for a long time. I can see why other people raved about this book. The emotional impact while reading the book was there but there was no long-lasting effect on me.
Still giving it a three and a half stars for an enjoyable read.
At the end of the book, there’s a Bonus Materials thing-y and you’ll find lists of songs that Elise would probably play in the bar. I found this Spotify playlist which features the songs recommended in the book and it’s pretty cool.